Early Years Part 2





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The band's musical identity was coming together... only better than I'd hoped!!!... The early live shows, and the incredibly positive reaction of the audiences wherever we played had brought a degree of confidence to the Lads, and it was manifesting in the writing, and in their approach to recording... as individuals, and as a collective...

'Walking In The Shadow Of The Blues'... 'Lovehunter'... 'We Wish You Well'... Songs that were to become main staples of Whitesnake's shows for the next few years...

For some reason, we'd been attracting the attention of certain elements of the press, who seemed to relish attacking us, and accusing me of sexism... Cries of; "WOT... US???"... and... "NEVER!!!", we offered in mock indignation... and then instructed an artist, Chris Achilleos, to create an appropriately sexist cover... just to piss 'em off even more... and it worked!!!...

It was just before the release of 'Lovehunter' that my former colleague, drummer extraordinaire, Ian Paice, mentioned to Jon Lord that he fancied getting involved with the band... WHOA, sez I... now wouldn't that be the cherry on the cake of my day!!!

With no intentional disrespect to ol' Duck... a truly lovely bloke, and a wonderful player in his own right, Jon, Bernie, Micky, Neil and I all felt the 'Lovehunter' sessions had highlighted a noticeable weakness in rhythm section... It didn't feel as 'hard-driving' or as solid as we felt it should... and socially it was becoming apparent that there was quite a world of difference...

So... Duck was out... and Paicey was in... I was greatly saddened that I couldn't get my manager to agree to re-record the drums for the album with Paicey... Economic reasons, I was told... Plain daft, I thought... it would have made an immense, positive difference to the album...

With Ian coming into the band... I felt that this was truly the beginning of Whitesnake... More than a few people thought I had some kind of 'master-plan' to reform Purple under the Whitesnake banner... but, that really wasn't the case... I was happier with Whitesnake than I'd ever been in Deep Purple...

The rhythm section of Ian Paice and Neil Murray was unbelievable... Unbeatable... A joy to sing to... It was as if it was meant to be... which, of course, it was... Completely natural... Neil's playing was exceptional to begin with, but, was taken to an entirely new level working with Ian... Mr. Murray was always one to rise to the musical occasion... and Paicey was on fire!!!...

I'd been quoted as saying that prior to Paicey coming in, Whitesnake reminded me of a Spanish tourist hotel... nice to look at, but, a bit shakey on the foundations...

This was what we needed to build Whitesnake into a World class band...

The other musicians were also continuing to develop and solidifying their musical character and personalities within the band... Bernie's incredibly melodic solos... precise and memorable still delight me to this day... ( I LOVE guitar solos I can sing along to... and Bernie's definitely deserve a special mention)... Always appropriate... continuing the emotional theme of the song when the vocal took a breather...

Jon Lord's glorious sonic keyboard layers... That SOUND!!!... Unique and unforgettable... His elegant musicality... Micky's slide playing... growing from strength to strength... Biting and full of humour... and helping to make the Whitesnake sound at that time, identifiable and unique from other bands around at that time... He was certainly fulfilling my belief in him...

Other than Jon and Ian's legendary musical glories with Deep Purple I'd say that all of us were performing at our absolute best... and probably more inspired than we'd ever been before... Getting better at our game... No doubt about it... inspiring the best out of each other... and having a grand ol' laugh at the same time...

When we came together to prepare for 'Ready and Willing'... Bernie decided to bugger off to Africa, or somewhere... I'd returned from my holiday in Belize, loaded with ideas... and just a little pissed that I didn't have a full complement of musicians...

We moved into Ridge Farm Studios, outside London, and started working on the album... On every track Ian and Neil laid down a tight, strong foundation that we could have built a bloody hotel on!!! ... SOLID!!!... 'Ain't Gonna Cry No More'... 'Black an' Blue'... 'Carry Your Load'... 'Loveman'... Micky & I conjured up the title track, which we presented as the 'band' song... and an early version of 'Hit an' Run'... then called 'Love For Sale'... but... the best was yet to come...

Moody and I had an cool idea for a song that needed something else to be make it more complete... Bernie's return to the fold provided it... and 'Fool For Your Loving' was born...

Originally written for BB King, believe it, or not... but, after cutting the track there was no doubt... Birchy and I decided we should keep it for ourselves... and lo and behold... it became our first Top Twenty hit... (I think)... Bernie and I quickly whipped up the music for what became 'Sweet Talker'... and we had the album in the can... YEAH, BABY!!!

With the release and subsequent 'hit' single and album, things really started to happen... Bigger venues, thank you very much... and personalities within the band gelling nicely... Ahh... what could possibly go wrong???... Everything in the garden seemed as it should be... so... onwards and forwards, Dear Friends... and once more into the breach as well, while you're at it...

Oh, yes... and mine's a double... mmm... Thank you...

The 'Come and Get It' album, recorded at Tittenhurst Park, Ascot... the former home of one, John Winston Lennon, Esq... and current part time domicile of one Ringo Starr... (well, at that time, anyway)... proved to be a splendid residential studio... and accompanied by a positive continuo in the writing and in the overall performances of the band... individually, and collectively... What could be better... Yes... Life was good!!!

Ahh... Confidence... without the arrogance... ALWAYS welcome... Neil's astounding melodic bass... perfectly complimenting Ian's extraordinary drumming, supplied us with significantly more than a solid foundation to build on... In fact... to this day... I regard the 'Ready and Willing' album, and 'Come and Get It', as the absolute best that the early Whitesnake could offer at that time in our history... and... as always... a good time was being had by all...

In reality, I always felt that Whitesnake was, and continues to be, far more compelling and REAL in concert, than we have ever been able to capture on record... If people didn't 'get it' from the records... the concert's showed 'em, in no uncertain terms, what we were all about... Minimal bullshit... and always open for business...

I remember keeping Neil awake one night, banging away on an acoustic piano underneath his bedroom... OOO-ER!!!... Hammering out the chords to what became 'Don't Break My Heart Again'... and as we're talking about Neil... he had asked me if I would mind listening to some of his song demos... Of course, ol' cock... Very good stuff too, thankfully... A little too 'jazz-rock' for the ol' Snakes, unfortunately, but, one track had a cracking riff... tho' I felt it was a little too fast... so I slowed it down... gave it to Bernard... and VOILA!!!... the song 'Girl' was born...

Actually most of the the lyric is about my daughter, Jessica... not the usual sexist stuff that was dripping, almost non-stop, from my inebriated quill at that time... (cue the...er...OOO-ER!!!...if you would be so kind)

Ahh... The double entendre!!!... The innuendo!!!... I LOVED IT!!!... The more the press rattled my cage about it... the more I wrote... and at times just rub it in...

Oh, and that reminds me... how could I forget 'Would I Lie To You'... just to get in you're... er... 'pantaloonas'...well... you know the rest... That particular inspiration came to me courtesy of a badge/pin I had been given by an adorable follower of the band... A lovely blonde lass, if memory serves...

Corkers such as 'Child Of Babylon'... 'Lonely Days'... 'Til The Day I Die'... 'Hit an' Run'... still a personal fave... and 'Wine Women and Song'...

It was usual for us, at the end of recording an album, to have a bit of a 'bash'... kind of like an 'end of skool' celebration... Pressure off... time to let off a bit of 'steam'... etc... and... according to the charming, fab, former Beatles employees who were running the joint ... we really outdid the Fab Four with this one... A TOTAL, CHAOTIC, BACCHANALIAN BLOW-OUT!!!

I'm still surprised, on reflection, that any of us survived... Once again... I have to defer to the honourable, true, tried and tested 'Craft Club' premise/excuse... as I believe most of 'them that were present' are still living, somewhere, in some way, shape or form... but... the only thing missing at the bash???... Fellini, Mate... and his camera...

Oh, yes... and once again... just as a reminder... the... er... 'having a good time' philosophy was continuing... unabated... altho' to be honest... a little fatigue was beginning to creep in...

The determination to 'have a good time' was starting to blur the line between the 'serious' songs... and the end of show knees up, and, "ooh, fondle my nipples, baby," 'fun' toons... and that was beginning to disturb me...

My contracts at that time called for me to deliver two albums a year... yes, that's right... TWO!!!... So... I developed the necessary habit of carrying a pen, lyric pad, a guitar and a cassette recorder pretty much everywhere I went... Any idea... no matter how modest... was committed to tape for finessing at a later date... I still do that, pretty much... but, with slightly better 'toys'...

So, as soon as all the tours promoting 'Come and Get It' where over, I started pulling together song ideas for our next opus...

I had developed a habit of taking 'writing' holidays... Usually to some exotic clime, where my Family could enjoy the Sun, and I'd work on songs...

For 'Ready and Willing', I'd gone to a tiny island off the coast of Belize... For 'Come and Get It', Beverly Hills was the spot 'o' choice... and the main song ideas for 'Slide It In' manifested in San Lucia, in the Caribbean... mmm... Who said you needed a smelly cellar to write your songs in???

So, for the next album... I buggered off to the Algarve, in Portugal...